gatineau morning.

gatineau morning.
photo by douglas mcarthur.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

our last argument.

basically, i had to drive to toronto every two or three weeks so dad had somebody to complain to. it wasn't quite the same over the phone. he liked when i would collect him from the retirement home, take him to his favourite restaurant and just let him rip.

dad had issues with pretty much everybody and everything, from the prime minister to the old lady in the next apartment, from all the immigrants clogging the health care system to rock music. one of the last times we went out, over our soup i remarked: "you know what your problem is?" "no," he said petulantly. "why don't you tell me?" "your problem is that you're not senile." "what the hell is that supposed to mean?" "well," i continued. "if you just had a bit of dementia happening, stuff wouldn't bother you so much." not seeing the humour, dad dismissed my remarks in his usual way: "oh yeah, you think you're so smart."

he ended up in a north toronto hospital not long after that where he continued to terrorize everyone around. he complained about everything from the ridiculously young chinese doctor to the tasteless food. i walked into his room one afternoon to find two nurses, a social worker, the doctor and a chaplain all around his bed. he was belligerent, tearing a strip out of everyone collectively and individually. i sat on his bed and suggested he try to not ruin everyones' day. the chaplain asked: "what can we do judge vanek to help you? is there anything at all we can bring you?" dad thought about that a moment before answering: "yes, you can bring me an apple." for some reason, that made everyone howl with laughter and, i guess since i was there, they filtered out of the room.

about fifteen minutes later, one of the nurses came back in carrying a bowl. she looked nervous. no, she looked terrified. dad took one look at the bowl and barked: "what's that?" tentatively, the nurse told him it was a bowl of apple-sauce. i saw the anger flash in his eyes and knew we were all in trouble. "did i ask for goddamn apple-sauce?," he hollered. somehow, the nurse managed to squeak out: "you can't eat an apple, judge vanek." immediately, the old guy shot back: "how do you know I want to eat it!? maybe i just want to lick it. maybe i just want to sniff it." the nurse scuttled out and he winked over at me: "cute isn't she? why don't you ask her for a date? i think she's from india."

dad slipped into a coma next day and we all assumed that was that. but, that wasn't quite that as it turned out. sitting in his darkened room, all of a sudden i heard: "nathan is that you?" shocked, i sat straight up. i spluttered: "yeah, dad, i'm still here." "well why the hell am i still here?," he shot back with an immediate hint of his customary crankiness. "i don't know, dad." "well who the hell knows?" by then he was beginning to sit up, holding onto a railing on one side of his bed, eyes flashing. i stood beside his bed and put a hand on his chest. trying to be positive, i offered: "well, maybe it's just not your time to go." he didn't like that at all. "don't you tell me it's not my time to go!" to which i replied: "dad, do you really think we should be arguing about whether you're dying or not?"

his last words were: "oh yeah, you think you're so smart." he lay down, closed his eyes and passed away about five or so minutes later. 

1 comment :

  1. i just read this hilarious post aloud to several people in Morocco. We all laughed and want more!